Hi Everyone, and WELCOME to The Writing Fairy website. I'm Dorothea Helms, freelance writer, poet, book author, fiction dabbler, writing instructor, keynote speaker, humorist, wife, mother and slave to my English Bulldog, Margaret. My website is undergoing a facelift, boob lift, liposuction, weight loss program ... wait a minute - those are things I need personally. Sheesh. But my website IS in transition after being neglected for a LONG time. My goal is to inspire writers; my method humour (or humor in the U.S.). Enjoy!

Coaxing closet writers to emerge and make their magic known!

This column appeared in the January/February 2010 issue of “Word Weaver.”

As a freelance writer, I’ve had to develop a thick skin over the years, which accounts for my weight problem. In reality, I’m thin – but my skin weighs heavy. OK, OK – it was worth a try. I weigh what I weigh because Miss Vickie and Sarah Lee are my idols, and my idea of exercise is moving around piles of paper in my office so it looks like I’m filing.

Having said that, I stand by my guns when it comes to promoting a thick skin for writers. We all want to be adored by the reading public, but the truth is that no writer is beloved of everyone. Not even Shakespeare, which is hard to believe, because who wouldn’t love a guy who comes up with phrases like bawdy addlepated flax-wench and gleeking toad-spotted maggot-pie?

The earlier you get used to the fact that different writing voices appeal to different readerships, the better. It’s best to not take it personally – we humans are a picky and fickle bunch. And when it comes to rejection, well, that’s where the thick skin helps the most. Chances are that the rejections you receive reflect how much space the editor has in the upcoming issue and what else she/he has on the desk in the way of submissions. Timing is everything, and unless you have ESP, you just have to send out your stuff and hope for the best. I know, I know – rejection hurts. But honestly, in time you accept it as part of the game and get on with your writing life.

The fact is, rejections won’t kill you, and being asked to change your words now and then by editors is part of the writing-editing-publishing process. As I always say, love your writing but avoid falling in love with it. You know – love is blind, rose-coloured glasses and all that cliché stuff that is so true in our lives. Have faith in yourself, and when the editing requests and rejections come, do what my friend Steve Bond advises: shut up and take it like a man.

 

Saturday, May 23, 2015                         Write Funny for Money

10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.                                  Register at BlueHeronBooks.com

Advertising and humour go together like tortilla chips and salsa – you take something potentially bland and add zip to make people want more.

In this one-day workshop, experienced humour writer and ad copywriter Dorothea Helms, a.k.a. The Writing Fairy, will cover the basics of these two types of writing, which have surprisingly similar characteristics – even though not all advertising is funny. Hopefully, all humour writing is funny!

This workshop will cover:

  • How humour and ad writing differ from traditional writing
  • What humour and ad writing have in common
  • The basics of what makes something funny
  • The key formulas that guide humour writing
  • The parts of an ad, and how humour-writing techniques can help create both serious and humorous ad headlines
  • How humour-writing can inject pizzazz to your traditional writing

The workshop will culminate in an informative handout that participants can use at home when putting these techniques into practice.

 

Saturday, June 6, 2015                            Intro to Creative Writing

10:30 to 4:00 p.m.                                          Register at BlueHeron Books.com

Have you ever seen creative writing courses advertised and thought maybe you’d like to take one? Have you then chickened out, because you have no idea what it means to take a creative writing course? This one-day workshop offers a taste of The Writing Fairy’s popular 6-week fall course. Experience an awakening of what writing can do for you, and what you can do for it, in a safe, fun and non-stressful environment. Enjoy some on-the-spot writing exercises and share in the fascination of hearing yours and other participants’ voices come to life with the guidance of seasoned writer/editor/writing instructor Dorothea Helms, The Writing Fairy. Find out what avenues are open to you as far as publishing goes and the basics of what you need to know to make your work more publishable. Most of all, explore your passion for words and see where it might take you.

 

April 28 to June 2, 2015 (Tuesdays)   Advanced Writing for Wordies

7:00 to 9:00 p.m.                                            Register at BlueHeron Books.com

(Tuesday evenings)

Ready to take your writing to the next level? The Writing Fairy is ready to help you soar. Learn to mine ideas from unlikely sources, take risks that will capture the attention of editors/publishers and polish your writing to the professional level. Dorothea will provide the kick-in-the-butt that will get your “butt in chair” to live out your writing dreams. This course is for writers who have advanced beyond the beginner stage. Oh, and it will be a lot of fun!

Saturday, January 10, 2015       Write to Win with Dorothea and Ruth E. Walker

12 noon to 5:00 p.m.                         Registration Fee $110 + HST

                                                            ($95 + HST for writing organization members)

                                                            Register at www.Writescape.ca

Want your writing contest entries to rise to the top? Increase your chances with practical tips, contest markets, hands-on exercises, judging practice and in-class contests from Dorothea and Ruth, who are contest judges, contest administrators and fun teachers. Get ready for an invigorating afternoon!           

 

Sunday, February 1, 2015          Make Money Writing

10:30 to 4:00 p.m.                              Registration details at www.BlueHeron Books.com

Beat the winter blahs with an energizing one-day workshop on how to earn money doing what you love. If you are a competent word-juggler but lack the left-brain skills to figure out how to derive revenue from it, this is the workshop for you. Let Dorothea Helms guide you through the basics on what pays, how to charge, what to keep track of and how to market your work. After several years of six-digit freelance incomes, she is qualified to provide you with the kick-start you need. Get ready to value yourself as a writer so others will, too!

 

March 5 to April 16, 2015          Advanced Writing for Wordies

1:00 to 3:00 p.m.                                Registration details at www.BlueHeron Books.com

(6 Thursday afternoons – no class March 19 because of March Break)

Ready to take your writing to the next level? The Writing Fairy is ready to help you soar. Learn to mine ideas from unlikely sources, take risks that will capture the attention of editors/publishers and polish your writing to the professional level. Dorothea will provide the kick-in-the-butt that will get your “butt in chair” to live out your writing dreams. This course is for writers who have advanced beyond the beginner stage. Oh, and it will be a lot of fun!

The following column appeared in the November/December 2009 issue of WCDR’s newsletter, Word Weaver.

The Writing Fairy® Eat My Dust Column

by Dorothea Helms

Someone asked me the other day why I chose “The Writing Fairy” as my brand. He wondered whether people think it’s a business for kids, or whether they assign negative connotations to the word Fairy. In fact, these are valid observations, and I took them into consideration in 2004 before I went ahead with the name.

I used Edward DeBono’s Six Hat Thinking to analyze the idea. First, I put on the white hat (in the metaphorical sense, although I have used real hats to teach this exercise). White represents the facts, and the facts were that I already had a successful freelance business, a lot of experience, and an established audience for my work. Then I moved on to the yellow hat, which symbolizes positive thinking. Most of the time, I’m a bona fide optimist, so it was easy for me to paint a bright picture of the future.

The green hat is interesting, because it’s about new ideas and the reasons to go for it. I did research on writers’ circles and groups across North America, and they’re multiplying faster than rabbits. After 15 years of teaching creative writing, I know there are closet writers out there, so I felt I’d do well with that target market, especially by using humour.

Then it was on to the red hat, which is my favourite. It stands for the feelings attached to the idea. The beauty of this hat is that you don’t have to justify these emotions in any way. I WANNA BE THE WRITING FAIRY, I WANNA, I WANNA. So there.

And I couldn’t ignore the black hat, which is looking at the idea in a critical way. The black hat helps to temper the enthusiasm with reality. Would people think my stuff is for kids? And would men avoid my books and workshops because of the word “fairy”? Then, the blue hat—the overall picture. Overall, my idea to launch The Writing Fairy seemed like a solid idea and a lot of fun.

What cinched it for me was a conversation I had with best-selling author Nicholas Boothman, who knows Edward DeBono. I mentioned the black hat concerns to Nick, and he said, “Dorothea I love the idea. The people who are going to get it will get it. Don’t worry about the others; another voice will speak to them.” And the rest is fairy history.

 

The following column appeared in the September/October 2009 issue of WCDR’s newsletter, Word Weaver.

The Writing Fairy® Eat My Dust Column

by Dorothea Helms

Winning writing contests is one of the most exciting things I’ve experienced during my career. In addition to validation for my writing from an objective source, the wins have brought money, plaques, prizes and prestige. Contest wins listed on a writer’s CV also add credibility.

I don’t know of a magic formula for winning (even though I’m The Writing Fairy), but I do have some tips I’d like to share on how to increase your chances.

  1. Come up with a creative way to approach the contest topic.
  2. Follow the rules.
  3. Write with abandon, polish your writing with care.
  4. Follow the rules.
  5. Enter
  6. Follow the rules.

Sound simplistic? For years, I have served as a writing contest judge from local to national levels, and I have run several contests myself. I’m always astounded at the number of entrants who neglect the rules.

If the maximum word count is 2,500 and your entry is 3,000, it will be eliminated before it’s even read. I’ve had to axe entries for being over the word count many times. If the rules stipulate that the piece has to be original and unpublished, make sure it is. Nowadays it’s easy to do a Google search for one of the sentences and find out if it’s on a website somewhere. I’ve done that and found published work that has been entered as unpublished. And if there is an entry fee, remember to include your payment.

The best way to make sure you follow the rules is to READ THEM. In one of my Writing Fairy contests, after I published the names of the 10 finalists, one of them contacted me to say he had just read the rules, and that his entry had been published in a major US newspaper. I had to eliminate his piece, and it took time and effort to figure out who was next in line to take his spot in the top ten.

When it comes to increasing your chances of winning writing contests, the only thing worse than not following the rules is not entering. If you read winning contest entries and think, I can do better than that, then do better than that and send it in. You’ll find a fabulous list of writing contests on the WCDR website. Get on your butt and give it a whirl.

Oh, and did I mention Follow the Rules?